Dr Who gripe #517

So – breaking news, unless you were listening to David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s stint on Radio 2 this morning – Tate is to return to Doctor Who in one of the specials this year.

You know I’d only be blogging this one if I was cross about it. And cross I am. Why? Is it because of the “spoiler”? Lord, no. We all know Russell T. Davies will have it splashed all over the Radio Times long before we get to be surprised by it.

And it’s not that I didn’t like Tate’s contribution to the show either. After a pretty dreadful start she really grew on me.

No, here’s my gripe: it’s that last year we had to sit through fifteen bloody minutes of her character being written out of the series forever (she can NEVER REMEMBER THE DOCTOR or she’ll DIE!!!), which felt pretty pointless at the time. But now, knowing that she’s going to come back after all, I’m wondering why oh why oh why did we have to sit through it AT ALL????

The same happened with Rose (“will I ever see you again?” *close up on Rose’s weepy teary face* “you can’t…” *another long lingering close up of Rose’s weepy teary face*) – written out FOREVER in a parallel universe. Only to pop up again after a little while.

And then there was Martha, who gets a lengthy tedious leaving scene every time she turns up only to feature yet again, on one occasion actually in the next episode.

Oh, not to mention the Daleks – killed off FORVER by being wiped from history, forcing writers to come up with increasingly tenuous reasons for their survival when they inevitably appear again because the kids would get upset if they didn’t. Ditto the Cybermen. We saw the Master’s body incinerated, but I’ll bet you he’ll be cropping up at some point in the near future.

It’s like Russell T. Davies has an obsessive compulsive need to kill his characters off COMPLETELY UTTERLY DEAD, then like some hyperactive playground kid realised they’re not dead after all. He doesn’t seem to realise that dramatic exits a) only really work once and b) don’t work at all with the benefit of the hindsight of knowing that they weren’t really exits after all. And c) aren’t all that dramatic when they happen every bloody episode.

Just once in a while I’d love it if a somebody said “well, bye Doctor, see you around” and the episode ended STRAIGHT AWAY. But that would be efficient writing, something Russell T. Davies has repeatedly proved himself incapable of (except, oddly, when he was still writing for Why Don’t You?). I’m longing to be proved wrong, but in tonight’s episode, due to be broadcast in a little under an hour, my prediction is that we will meet a whole load of exciting new characters and Russell will have left a good ten minute chunk of the hour-long episode for them all to say goodbye in.

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